Transparent media: is it time for advertisers to take back control?

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Transparent media buying and an ethical stance is the new norm for agencies.

Much of the discussion regarding transparent media buying has painted the leading network agencies as the bad guys for not disclosing or passing along rebates, hiding programmatic fees and commission, and disagreements regarding data and tech ownership.

This may be true, as the business ethics of many of the big networks is now being called into question. However, advertisers aren’t entirely blameless in this situation. After all, they’ve been driving down commission rates through their procurement departments, tasked with achieving the lowest possible price for the media. As a result, not enough consideration is given to the quality of the ad tech provider and service levels required to ensure profitability, performance and transparency in media buying.

This has led agencies to seek profit to fund their business models elsewhere, but now these practices have been disclosed, many of the networks now find themselves providing nervous financial forecasts.

The fallout from the scandal has led larger advertisers including Vodafone, Duracell and P&G to feel so disillusioned with media agencies, that they have brought their digital media buying in-house. By negotiating their own contracts with DSPs, they hope to get full transparency on both cost and data.

This approach may work for them, given they have the resource and budgets to justify creating new departments solely focussed on media management, but where does it leave advertisers with more modest budgets?

It would seem that there is a need for a new kind of agency – one that has a business model to deliver transparent media and deliver top class service. After all, agencies are a big advantage for advertisers in comparison with working with Facebook, Google and Amazon, who could be argued as even less transparent as they force advertisers into using their technology stacks without explaining how their systems powering them work. Agencies have more expertise and insight to navigate and challenge any irregularities that could occur.

When working in this landscape, clients need to consider that the goal should be to compensate their agency fairly, while also motivating them to achieve outcomes that generate value.

At Media Bounty we have a business model that offers transparent media buying along with a conscious and ethical stance which gives an additional level of reassurance to brands. As a founder of the Conscious Advertising Network, a coalition of like-minded media organisations, brands and tech, there is the additional buying power to challenge the major advertising platforms as well as implement an ethical framework to ensure advertising does not appear next to unverified content and ensure that we can get the best possible outcome for clients.

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